Miami Dolphins: A deep dive into a decade of unlucky drafts

The Miami Dolphins are an embarrassing 72 and 88 since the start of the 2009 season. For those wondering at home, that’s not good. With the 2019 NFL Draft approaching, we’re analyzing some of the biggest mistakes they have made.

The Miami Dolphins have made poor choices over the last decade, many of them coming in the draft. Looking back, it’s easy to see why Miami’s record is as sad as it is when you consider building a winning team begins with the draft.

2009 NFL Draft

The Dolphins selected Vontae Davis, cornerback out of Illinois, with the 25th pick in this draft. The Green Bay Packers selected linebacker Clay Matthews just one pick later. Davis never went to a Pro Bowl while in Miami and has since retired (at halftime of an NFL game). Matthews, the Pitch Perfect 2 movie star, has been selected to six Pro Bowls and has been an All-Pro once.

Miami did find somewhat of a diamond in the rough in the fourth round with the selection of Ohio State wide receiver Brian Hartline. Hartline is one of only three Dolphins receivers ever to record back to back 1,000-yard seasons.

Pro Bowlers: 0

2010 NFL Draft

This one hurts for Dolphins fans, Miami chose defensive lineman Jared Odrick at 28. Why does this one hurt you might ask? Because Miami held the 12th pick in this draft but traded it to the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers selection isn’t what hurts. They chose running back Ryan Matthews from Fresno State. The Seattle Seahawks chose future Hall of Famer Earl Thomas just two picks later, which still stings some Dolphins fans to this day.

It is worth noting that Miami got somewhat of a consolation prize in the fifth round when they selected safety Reshad Jones who’s been one of the best safeties in the league when healthy.

Pro Bowlers: 1 (Jones – 2)

2011 NFL Draft

One of the best (if not THE best) Dolphins first-round draft picks over the last decade has been center, Mike Pouncey. Miami selected the University of Florida offensive lineman with the 15th pick. Pouncey was the best player on the offensive line during his Dolphins tenure. Unfortunately, he suffered multiple hip injuries throughout his career and was only able to play a complete season only three times. When healthy, there has been no debate of Pouncey’s skill as a blocker, this past season he was able to play a complete season for the Los Angeles Chargers assisting them with their playoff run.

This draft was particularly rough for the Dolphins front office. They whiffed on their second-round pick, running back Daniel Thomas from Kansas State and failed to find any long-term starters. Charles Clay was a decent pick in the sixth round, but after only four seasons in Miami, he signed with the Buffalo Bills.

Pro Bowlers: 1 (Pouncey – 3)

2012 NFL Draft

One of the most controversial picks in Dolphins history was quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Miami selected the Texas A&M passer with the 8th pick to lead the team back into prominence. This didn’t pan out, as Tannehill never lead the team to the playoffs and finished his Dolphins career with a 42-46 record. It was clear that this was the year Miami needed to draft a quarterback, but just one pick later the Carolina Panthers selected another future Hall of Famer, linebacker Luke Kuechly.

This was also the draft that brought offensive tackle from Stanford Jonathan Martin to the Dolphins. The team thought Martin would bring his pass blocking skills to shore up Miami’s offensive line when they chose him with the 42nd pick. Instead, Martin brought the infamous “Bully-Gate” scandal to their Davie facility making Miami the laughing stock of the league.

Pro Bowlers: 0

2013 NFL Draft

If you were to run a poll asking who is Miami’s biggest draft bust of all time, I think it would be 100% Dion Jordan. In 2013 Miami traded up with the Oakland Raiders to the 3rd overall pick and chose the defensive end from Oregon. Many people expected the choice to be offensive tackle Lane Johnson, but general manager Jeff Ireland surprised everyone with this pick.

As soon as Jordan landed in Miami, fans were already labeling him the next Jason Taylor. Six years later it’s safe to say Jordan will never be even 1/16th of the player Taylor was. Jordan struggled with substance abuse issues during his Miami career and only ended up appearing in 26 games and started only one. In those games, he was only able to muster up two sacks.

Pro Bowlers: 0

2014 NFL Draft

This year was probably the best for Miami as far as finding successful players with their first two picks. The team chose offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James at 19 and LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry at 63. James started in all 62 games that he appeared in for Miami. Landry went on to break multiple receiving records for the club, including setting an NFL record with the most catches through a player’s first four seasons.

Unfortunately, neither player is still on the roster. Miami traded Landry in the 2018 offseason to the Cleveland Browns, and James just signed a massive free-agent contract with the Denver Broncos.

Pro Bowlers: 1 (Landry – 3)

2015 NFL Draft

We can label this year’s draft for the Dolphins as the “all-time potential” draft. Miami chose playmaking wide receiver from Louisville Devante Parker with the 14th pick here. At the time it looked like it would turn out to be an absolute home run, Landry was showing his potential as one of the league’s best slot receivers, Parker was supposed to come in and be an A.J. Green type outside receiver. Parker hasn’t been healthy for a full 16 games even once in his career. His injuries always seem to nag and affect him longer than they should, holding back his undeniable talent.

In the second round, Miami chose Oklahoma defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. The pre-draft knock on Phillips was his motor. NFL people had concerns that he only played hard when he felt like it, and that doesn’t work in the NFL as it does in college. At 6-6 and 341 pounds, Phillips is almost always the biggest player on the field, pair with that his rare athleticism and he should be consistently one of the league’s premier interior rushers. Phillips has proven scouts correct since entering the league who were concerned with his work ethic. Miami cut Phillips after week four of the 2018 season, and he finished the year with the Buffalo Bills.

Miami also selected Boise State running back Jay Ajayi with the 149th pick in this draft. Ajayi burst onto the scene in 2016 racking up 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns en route to his lone Pro Bowl trip. Personality differences with former head coach Adam Gase saw Ajayi shipped off to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Pro Bowlers: 1 (Ajayi – 1)

2016 NFL Draft

2016 has the makings to not only be the best Dolphin’s drafts in recent memory but one of the best all time. Miami selected offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil with the 13th pick and Baylor cornerback Xavien Howard with the 38th. Tunsil was widely regarded as the top tackle prospect this year but fell to the 13th pick when an old picture surfaced of him wearing a facemask bong just before the draft began.

Since week 12 of the 2017 season, no player has more interceptions than Howard. He has been as shut down as cornerbacks come since his two-interception performance against Denver. Tunsil and Howard will undoubtedly be two of the key players in Miami’s current rebuild.

Pro Bowlers: 1 (Howard – 1)

2017 NFL Drafts

The 2017 draft has brought us a question mark so far. with the 22nd pick, Miami chose Missouri defensive end, Charles Harris. Harris is a hard worker and has shown some flashes that he has some talent. Now that Miami has moved on from pass rushers Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn, Harris will have all the opportunities he needs to show why he was selected in the first round.

In the 2nd round, Miami chose Ohio State linebacker, Raekwon McMillan. McMillan tore his ACL on his first ever professional snap in the 2017 pre-season and proceeded to miss the entire year. Last year, after returning from injury, McMillan started every game of the season and recorded over 100 tackles. He will have a big role in new head coach Brian Flores’ system so Miami needs him to succeed.

Pro Bowlers: 0

2018 NFL Draft

Miami was able to land Nick Saban’s favorite player of all time in this draft, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick came in and instantly showed why he’s held in such high regard by the best college football coach of all time. Fitzpatrick is as mature and disciplined as they come. This showed as the team moved him around multiple positions in his first season where he succeeded at every position he was put in to. In an offseason that allows him to train fully at one position, we should see even more growth in his second season.

In the 2nd round, the Dolphins landed tight end Mike Gesicki out of Penn State. Gesicki’s first NFL season was a disappointment, he never seemed to catch stride and at times looked lost. A full NFL offseason should assist his growth as a player, and fans should hope to see him utilized more as the pass-catching tight end that he is.

Pro Bowlers: 0




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